Columns & Blogs

In gaming, why can’t Tiger tame Augusta?

Sportswriters often get some of the luckiest breaks.

I spent this past weekend in Augusta, covering the Masters. It was the second consecutive year I’ve covered the event and the third time overall.

If you have never been to the Masters, then find a way to go, because Augusta National Golf Club is one of the more spectacular sporting venues in the world.

But this is a gaming column, and I bring up Augusta National because it is arguably the most famous golfing venue in the world to not be digitally re-created for a video game.

Many of the most famous golf courses — Pebble Beach, Pinehurst No. 2, TPC at Sawgrass, St. Andrew’s — have made appearances in the “Tiger Woods PGA Tour” series.

Electronic Arts has never been able to secure Augusta National for its inclusion in Woods’ game largely because the folks at Augusta National don’t like to be followers. Things are done differently at the club.

It doesn’t sell merchandise off its grounds. A Masters badge is one of the most difficult tickets to secure in sports. The club likes being different, and they love the prestige that comes along with hosting the Masters.

Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne told reporters last year that there was a possibility of the course showing up in a video game. But he also claimed it wouldn’t be in a Tiger Woods game, saying something like Augusta National is special enough to have its own game.

Payne is probably right about that, but that doesn’t mean it should be the avenue he pursues.

Selling a golf game without the development team at EA or the name recognition of “Tiger Woods PGA Tour” would be a colossal mistake.

EA has cornered the market on golf games and has continually released standout games.

Because Augusta National has been so elusive, EA would feature the course prominently in a Tiger Woods game. “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10” features the U.S. Open and the United States Golf Association after securing those licenses for the first time. EA would do the same, if not more, promotion with the Masters.

If it was to go out on its own for a game, Augusta National would risk putting a game out like the atrocious ones associated with the biennial Olympic games.

Augusta National should swallow its pride for once and allow the magnificent course to appear on a Tiger Woods game.